cover image Right from the Gecko

Right from the Gecko

Cynthia Baxter, . . Bantam, $6.99 (319pp) ISBN 978-0-553-58844-6

The last time readers saw full-time vet/part-time sleuth Jessica Popper and her lawyer-to-be boyfriend Nick Burby, she was rejecting his marriage proposal on a Maui beach. Baxter picks up her popular mystery series 18 months later, after the stubborn pair have resettled into comfortable couplehood, but puts them, improbably, on a flight right back to Maui—this time for a veterinarians' conference, 10 days of R&R and, hopefully, a little romance. Their vacation gets sidetracked when the body of young reporter Marnie Burton washes up on the beach, and Jessie—having just met Marnie the day before—decides to take a closer look. As she brings to light the shady dealings of a biotech firm and a plethora of quirky suspects, readers will forgive the unlikely return trip, if only for Baxter's rich sense of setting. Fans might be less forgiving of Baxter's decision to do away with the usual menagerie of critters (with the exception of an orphaned cat), but her shift in focus pays off with a robust cast and a trickier whodunit. (Apr.)